Are you the dog or cat?

Some people embrace change, some run the other way. Which are you? The other day our “new” family member, Bella, boxer, came to live with us. Just watching the cat adjust to the situatimageion or not, has been a mini science project. Now it’s hardly the first time I’ve gone through this socialization but I found myself studying it differently this time.

The cat has lived with and loved dogs already. And I personally prefer dogs to cats, more on that later. But, despite the fact that the dog isn’t the least bit aggressive, not one iota of aggressive behavior, the cat feels the need to hide under beds for days, climb to the highest shelves and knock lots of things down, and puff up like a cobra if the dog moves too suddenly.

In all fairness he’s 85% of the way to normalization and its only day 4, worthy of praise. But let’s face it, he’s been here before, the dog is nearly a twin for the dog we just put down, and may I remind you, HE LIKES DOGS! Before the last dog died he spent many an hour rubbing up against her. So why does the cat even bother with this charade when he knows he’ll be cuddling with her any day now?

Ok ok, you’ll say it’s a cat, he can’t help it, give him a break, lighten up. But we all know people like this don’t we? They find themselves in a situation not of their choosing, and then suffer for some amount of time knowing full well they will come around and adjust ( or not) sooner or later. I mean life never stops throwing us curve balls – never. And many people think, “If only this were different or that.” Or, “I’d have felt better if this had happened or if that had instead.” Here’s the deal people – we have a name for this syndrome- we call them circumstances, and we always have them, pushing in on us, unwanted, unplanned, unexpected situations, turns in the road, curve balls, a pickle.

Now dogs don’t seem to spend much time psychologizing. Notice dogs never worry about being late? Or if you like their outfit? But somehow cats seem to represent the people that worry a lot. Even when it isn’t warranted. Of course there are some neurotic dogs but mostly the species are pretty chill. They roll with punches. Remember the dog’s the one in a brand new house, with strangers, and a cat that would enjoy hurting her if she gets too close, too fast.

Oh and did I mention she’s in heat, too? Yup, just to make things more complicated the poor girl is “ripe.” But you don’t hear her complaining, even when she’s had to suffer the indignity of wearing a protective diaper! What a champ. I couldn’t handle all this.

Yet it’s the cat that’s acted freaked out. There’s an old Chinese proverb I’ve always loved, “Ride the horse in the direction it’s going.” Yes, yes, go with the flow kitty. The dog’s staying, you’re as loved and spoiled as she will be, she’s a doll, and you know you wanna cuddle with her. Give it up!

 

 

Keep Calm

imageRecently I sold my house for our asking price an hour after it went on the market. That was followed by an over priced bid two hours later. Now I’m not saying we should all rush out for a three martini lunch or think that the excesses of 2004 2005 are back but there’s no denying that housing and job markets are climbing. People are investing in their homes again, taking advantage of refinancing, and spending more again. And dare I say it- feeling slightly better about the economy and their own prospects…

Even if this uptick is not as robust as some would like to see it is moving in the right direction. Consumer confidence is up. And it couldn’t come at a better time. It’s hard to feel real economic confidence after the complete collapse of several years ago but it is the nature of our culture and our economy to rebound eventually. And Americans love a turn around story.

Personally I’ve been trying to do my part by “shopping small.” I look for every opportunity to buy from a small business owner, to avoid chains and big box stores, and even look to buy made in America products whenever I can. I know it’s not much but it absolutely does make a difference. In fact I deplore malls with their cookie cutter stores with their miles of boring cookie cutter aisles. I steer clear of plazas and seek out the local guys. So much of what’s wrong with our economy can be traced to the ever disappearing local businesses. And these giant corporations underpaying, under employing, and under compensating their employees while pretending to give a damn about any of us. Up with the mallternatives!

Now I appreciate that there are jobs for millions of people in these megastores and chains. But typically they don’t pay a living wage, do not promote women into management or offer any substantive benefits for families or single parents. We’ve become a nation of exploiters and exploited. So I invite you all you to drive the extra mile or two and support your local store owner. Allow the woman or man who takes risks everyday by opening their doors to serve you and supply you. Try to buy American. I know it’s pretty hard but if we try we’ll see more choices eventually. And if it costs a bit more to do that remember in the final analysis we all win by keeping their businesses open. You won’t miss those pennies but you will make a huge difference in someone’s life by choosing to buy local over a chain store.

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I’ve had a real sense lately that the economy is inching forward.  I don’t mean on Wall Street or in board rooms. I mean in the hopeful glint I’ve detected in my clients’ eyes. And in the cautiously expectant expressions on retailers’. faces. Something is up.

I realize most business people have been tortured and beaten down by the spiraling losses of these last few years, made appallingly worse only by the unbounded optimism that preceded it. There was such an astonishing loss of innocence with the recession that seasoned business professionals were caught totally by surprise and unprepared. Many not particularly talented or deserving business people enjoyed unparalleled growth and riches while the economy sailed along on the back of foolish and dangerous loans and patently criminal behavior. But eventually the piper came a calling. And everyone had to pay up.

For the longest time since the great fall I rarely saw any optimism, or enthusiasm, or fight left in legions of business owners. Workers never felt less secure about employment knowing that termination could come at anytime. Virtually every industry lay waste, workers and management were dazed and shaken. And no matter how many earnings reports, or forecasts, or recovery plans were put forth nary a person seemed to have a lick of hope that conditions were improving. It’s dragged on and on, and what used to be known as “consumer confidence” became a mere memory like eight track tapes and rotary phones.

But I have observed long and hard with a keen eye to the emotional pulse of the small business owners. I have peered at their reactions, and response, and doubts, and only very recently have I seen a glimmer of hopefulness returning. Managers are looking further out, slowly hiring, making longer term plans and taking ever slightly more risk again. The terror that filled every cubic inch for what seemed an interminable sentence, is giving way to an ever so wobbly new normal. No one dare think business will ever be as it was five or more years ago. However, people are a funny lot. We have fortunately short memories of unmentionable pain and loss enabling us to pick up and move onward even when unwise.
The pendulum always swings back again and we will eventually regroup and dare to hope for far better days. Some will experience great affluence in the next chapter, many will survive to muddle through. But, there certainly is no denying that, by indicators other than the government’s or trade organizations, there is a new stirring. I believe it is finally time to cast off that horrible pall that’s cloaked us for such a long long time and back into fiscal health